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  6. Bill amended to hand new development powers to cities

Bill amended to hand new development powers to cities

England's biggest cities will be able to make a case for new powers to promote economic growth under new clauses agreed by Parliament as amendments to the Localism Bill, currently under scrutiny in the Lords.

This move has been welcomed by cities minister Greg Clark and Chris Murray, director of the Core Cities Group,

The UK's 'Core Cities' urban areas - Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield - are the main drivers of the economy outside London and the South East, responsible for 27 per cent of the national economy.

The changes means city leaders, alongside an area's local enterprise partnership, can make the case for being given new powers to promote economic growth and set their own distinctive policies.

Ministers claim the amendment should open the door to greater local control over investment to drive growth and involving housing and planning, economic development and the pooling of resources and effort across functioning economic areas.

According to independent forecasts, if the Core Cities were given greater freedoms they would be able to deliver an extra one million jobs and £44bn to the economy in the next decade across their local enterprise partnership areas.

Cities minister Greg Clark said: "Dynamic cities are essential to faster economic growth across the UK so it's vital they have the means to exploit their potential.

"In the future UK cities will be able to bid for freedom to set their own distinctive policies. When they come up with innovative proposals for doing things differently, we will devolve the powers cities need to drive private sector growth and create jobs."

Chris Murray, director of the Core Cities Group, added: “The performance of our biggest cities is critical to the national economy, and we know that there is a strong relationship between the levels of decentralization cities have in other countries and how competitive they are”.

The relevant legislative changes were set out in amendment 114 to the Bill and debated in the Lords.

Read Lords Hansard 12 Sept 2011: column 559.

Roger Milne

15 September 2011